Off By More Than 99%? It Changes Nothing!

[If I interpret this press release correctly, I believe it claims: Ocean plastic pollution is less than 1% of what we’ve been screaming for decades, but is still as big a problem as ever! MAYBE EVEN BIGGER!~cr]

The missing ocean plastic sink: Gone with the rivers

The mysterious ocean plastic sink


Research News


Plastics are a growing problem for natural ecosystems around the globe, and in particular for our marine and freshwater environments. Rivers are the leading source of plastic pollution, as it has been estimated that they deliver several million metric tons of plastic annually to our oceans from poor land-based waste management. The problem is that the estimates made for plastics flowing from the rivers are tens to hundreds of times higher than the quantity of plastics floating on the ocean’s surface. So where is all of this river-derived plastic actually going – is there a missing plastic ‘sink’ somewhere in the ocean? Are the estimates correct?

In a paper published today in Science, Dr. Lisa Weiss and her colleagues from the Centre of Education and Research on Mediterranean Environments (CEFREM), a joint research laboratory between the University of Perpignan (UPVD) and the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), and a team of researchers from a number of research institutions in France and the University of Barcelona in Spain demonstrate that current river flux assessments are overestimated by two to three orders of magnitude from previous estimates. This would explain why a large volume of microplastics seems to disappear into a mysterious ocean ‘plastic sink’.

However, these findings do not suggest that plastics are less of a problem than previously thought. In fact, through their analyses, researchers actually found that plastics remain at the ocean’s surface much longer than previously estimated – further exacerbating the effects of plastic pollution on natural systems.

The mysterious ocean plastic sink

Rivers are the main source of plastic discharge into the oceans. According to current assessments, the floating stock of microplastics on the ocean’s surface – from tens to hundreds of metric tons – is just a small fraction of the millions of metric tons that are discharged by rivers each year. This unequal balance has led to the ‘plastic sink’ hypothesis whereby the amount of microplastics in the ‘plastic sink’ plus the plastics at the surface would equal those presumably discharged by rivers into the sea.

According to the study’s lead author Dr. Lisa Weiss from the CEFREM laboratory at the University of Perpignan, ‘The in situ data that we now have for microplastics in rivers, compared to early empirical modelling studies, allowed us to assemble a robust database which we were then able to analyse to obtain a more reliable estimate for the quantity of microplastics being discharged from rivers into the sea. This process revealed several significant methodological errors in previous flux estimates. When we then corrected these mistakes we found that the global river flux estimates are two to three orders of magnitude less than previously thought. Further, we found that the average residence time for microplastics at the surface of the oceans may actually be a few years as opposed to only several days, as previously estimated.”

According to the study’s lead author Dr. Lisa Weiss from the CEFREM laboratory at the University of Perpignan, ‘The in situ data that we now have for microplastics in rivers, compared to early empirical modelling studies, allowed us to assemble a robust database which we were then able to analyse to obtain a more reliable estimate for the quantity of microplastics being discharged from rivers into the sea. This process revealed several significant methodological errors in previous flux estimates. When we then corrected these mistakes we found that the global river flux estimates are two to three orders of magnitude less than previously thought. Further, we found that the average residence time for microplastics at the surface of the oceans may actually be a few years as opposed to only several days, as previously estimated.”

“We can now confirm that the search for the missing ‘plastic sink’ is over, as the missing plastics have been found through the correction of the river flux estimate”, states Professor Miquel Canals, head of the Consolidated Research Group on Marine Geosciences at the University of Barcelona and one of the co-authors of the study.

The new study identifies the main methodological mistakes which led to inaccurate assessments of the fluxes and overall mass of microplastics discharged by rivers into the sea at a global scale. In particular, mistakes were made because of a systematic overestimation of the average microplastic particle weight in river samples; from the integration of incompatible data that were obtained through different sampling techniques; and from assessments based on the relation between microplastic fluxes and the MPW index (mismanaged plastic waste)

.A fight without borders to preserve our planet’s oceans

Marine waste does not care about borders and has reached the most remote corners of our oceans and seas. According to Dr. Wolfgang Ludwig, the Director of the CEFREM laboratory and co-author of the study, “the only way we are going to have a chance at winning the fight against microplastic pollution will be to target the sources where microplastic waste is generated. We need to take action at the human level. We need to change our consumption habits, better manage our waste and we need to do this at a global scale.”

“Our study shows that marine microplastic pollution not only comes from developing countries – with little to no waste management – as one might think, but also comes from countries with well-established waste management systems. If we were to stop the discharge of microplastics from rivers to the sea today, the amount of floating particles and their harmful effects on marine ecosystems would persist for at least another several years”, states Dr Ludwig.

Next steps…

The impacts of plastics on the marine environment is an emerging field of scientific research that has generated a large number of scientific publications over the last few years. Still, we have only just begun to understand how plastics cycle in the oceans. There are many plastic size classes, oceanic compartments and land-to-sea transfer processes for which further research is urgently needed to properly evaluate the stock sizes and exchange fluxes between compartments. Going forward, we will need the best available science if we are to have a chance at winning the battle against plastic pollution. To do this, the scientific community must work together to overcome inertia from the past, correct mistakes and work with common protocols and guidelines in order to provide the best possible decision-making advice needed to protect our oceans and seas.


From EurekAlert!

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Brooks H Hurd
July 3, 2021 2:32 pm

Here is a brief synopsis:
The methodology we have used in the past overestimates the plastic waste entering the ocean from rivers by 3 orders of magnitude.
Furthermore, we don’t know the residence time for plastics at the ocean’s surface. It may also be off by 3 orders of magnitude (years rather than days).
We really need more money to study what is happening.
Rest assured, even with such large errors, this is still a problem, so send us more money.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Brooks H Hurd
July 3, 2021 2:53 pm

And it mostly comes from developing countries, but developed countries need to do more to combat the problem. Possibly 3 orders of magnitude more. (that last bit was tongue in cheek, but not really).

Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
July 3, 2021 4:42 pm

partly…at least the UN thinks China is a developing country

China is the worlds larges source of plastic waste reaching the ocean…
 …..90 percent of single-use plastic that pollutes our oceans comes from 10 rivers, 6 of which are in China

..and just like global warming….no one will ever hold China accountable

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Latitude
July 3, 2021 6:00 pm

Because every politician is afraid they will lose the next election of they don’t provide their voters with China’s cheap goods.

Peta of Newark
Reply to  Rory Forbes
July 3, 2021 8:41 pm

Yes Rory and those ‘goods’ are getting cheaper and cheaper and nastier…And very expensive ultimately..

Last week I took on a notion to get some extra RAM for my notebook, the one I use to edit my mindless dance-music music/videos.

£35 got me 8GB of DDR4 2400 SODIMM
And what was a good laptop that now won’t even boot into its own BIOS
Put a good ‘looking glass’ up to the memory chips and look for the letter “B” and Made in China.
B representing 2nd grade crap chips that normally would never see the light of day and Made in China now means: Built In Obsolescence – as per all their LED light-bulbs

Re: me and my RAM, it seems I should have been:

  • Spending £55 and upwards,
  • Avoiding anything made by ‘Micron’
  • esp Micron and assembled in China

Explains now why electric jalopies are so expensive yet still, as Elon found, those chips die inside 5 years.
Those chips are managing the huge incendiary bombs that all large Lithium batteries potentially are
And we build computers full of that junk, computers that lives depend upon, isn’t that right Boeing 737max and that predict the weather and steer national infrastructure policy..
Mix that (US style) with a tired and demented old puppet-man in charge of it all or, as per the UK, a bloated belligerent dim drunken and diabetic buffoon. With his balls in a vise

not looking good is it, not good at all.

Reply to  Peta of Newark
July 3, 2021 9:35 pm

You have to buy memory with the interface speed matching the chipset speed. If they’re too far off, they can’t handshake.

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  Peta of Newark
July 4, 2021 2:42 am

So true, more and more of the stuff that comes out of China is worth about what we pay for it, no bargains here. Recently I purchased a meat grinder attachment for my KitchenAid stand mixer. I paid a bit extra for stainless steel over aluminum too. Lo and behold, the only parts that are actually stainless steel are the worm shaft and cutting disks, the rest is aluminum and does not fare well in the dishwasher….

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
July 7, 2021 8:02 am

There are ways to clean aluminum that has been blackened by putting in a dishwasher.

Reply to  Latitude
July 3, 2021 6:12 pm

You missed the point … what plastics?

Reply to  Latitude
July 3, 2021 9:33 pm

If a country owns nukes, and can operate a rover on Mars, that is not a developing country.

Shoki Kaneda
Reply to  Lil-Mike
July 4, 2021 12:56 am

I agree what you said, but it is possible to be both a technological superpower and third world shithole. (see: Soviet Union)

Dave Andrews
Reply to  Lil-Mike
July 4, 2021 7:34 am

Apparently the Chinese Premier, Li Keqiang. admitted recently that 600 million mostly rural citizens only earn about 1000 yuan a month
(£112 or $156).

Although they are also apparently busy building over 100 missile silos in the desert.

Bro. Steve
Reply to  Lil-Mike
July 5, 2021 4:37 am

As my admirable wife said after our third tripe to China, “I’ll believe they’re a first-world country when you can drink the water.”

As for me, a power company employee, I amused myself by taking pictures of the rat-nest wiring on utility poles here and there.

So I agree with Shoki. China has stolen a great deal of tech and learned to use it — so they are smart people — but life for the common man in China is like living in a sewer. And increasingly, if you’re not ethnically Han Chinese, it’s getting to be way worse than that.

Reply to  Brooks H Hurd
July 3, 2021 4:16 pm

Yet we are going to conclude keeping plastic out of the ocean and rivers won’t actually fix the problem, only stopping consumption will. Because, somehow it magically teleports into rivers, and stopping consumption was the purpose of my getting a degree.

Reply to  Brooks H Hurd
July 3, 2021 4:22 pm

The beauty of not knowing is that the less we know the more we can imagine.

Reply to  Chaamjamal
July 4, 2021 12:22 am

When you have no data the model space becomes very large.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  ThinkingScientist
July 4, 2021 7:39 am

But surely Prof Miquel Canals must have first hand knowledge!

David A
Reply to  Brooks H Hurd
July 5, 2021 12:49 am

Well he actually said the amount in rivers was off by two to three orders of magnitude. Hum? Is this not saying they don’t know to one order of magnitude? Why should anyone trust anyone with such large uncertainties?

July 3, 2021 2:36 pm

I know where all the discarded bits of plastic are going.
To the same place where all of the crude oil went on that horrendous disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
Into the mysterious “Bermuda Triangle”.
Never to be seen again.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Bob Hoye
July 3, 2021 2:54 pm

It’s vibing with the ‘hidden heat’ deep in the ocean!

Janice Moore
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
July 3, 2021 3:56 pm


As Kevin Trenberth would put it, “Where the heck is [that plastic]?……..(muttering) we’ve simply got to find that missing [plastic].”

Reply to  Janice Moore
July 3, 2021 4:31 pm

At the bottom of the food chain there may be some plastic-eating bacteria that are currently evolving to enjoy the plastic feasts we provide them.

Janice Moore
Reply to  noaaprogrammer
July 3, 2021 4:42 pm

Dear NP. I was trying to be funny. Trying. 😕

Thank you for your earnest reply with some very good information.

Reply to  noaaprogrammer
July 4, 2021 2:53 am

No “may be” about it. We have identified bacteria in cattle’s rumens which eat plastics. We also know that the widely-trumpeted “ocean garbage patches” simply don’t exist.

I have seen large areas of plastic bags floating 50 miles off the Niger delta which have been washed down the river at the start of the rainy season. And don’t think they have sunk to the bottom either. On the same job, we operated an ROV on the bottom. Still no plastic!

The plankton trawls show that plastics break up, giving smaller and smaller pieces until they reach a size of about 1 micron, and then, powf, the number of particles plummets. Where have they gone? They have been eaten! You have provided a source of energy, aka food, and something will evolve to exploit it. Remember, the generation time can be as little as 20 minutes!

Always remember, however bright you (think) you are, nature is much bigger than you, and has been doing it a lot longer.

Reply to  Disputin
July 4, 2021 3:32 pm

Maybe 1 micron, 1 micrometre or 1 thousandth of a millimetre is a far as it can go before it’s internal attractions outway any external actions that can break it down further. It’s just a thought, but knowing that a lot of creatures under the waves seem to feed by just swimming around with their mouth open, it’s surprising that anything of any small size is left.

Steve Case
Reply to  Bob Hoye
July 3, 2021 2:54 pm

And the oil from the Excon Valdez is still there too, right under surface, you can’t see it, but it’s still there and it’s gonna getcha.

R Grubb
Reply to  Bob Hoye
July 3, 2021 2:55 pm

Along with the millions of ball point pens from pockets and the millions of socks from washing machines and dyers that disappear annually.

Reply to  R Grubb
July 3, 2021 3:20 pm

Many years ago, the Wall Street Journal published an article about stockings mysteriously disappearing from washing machines.
Someone suggested establishing a Sox Exchange such that mismatches could be put together.

Reply to  Bob Hoye
July 3, 2021 4:28 pm

On the other hand, I have coat hangers that keep multiplying in my closet.

Reply to  noaaprogrammer
July 3, 2021 9:36 pm

Socks are the larval form of coathangers.

Alan the Brit
Reply to  noaaprogrammer
July 3, 2021 11:36 pm

The trouble is, I never seem to have a spare one when I need one……….now what’s that all about!!!! It must be those aliens trying to tell us how awful we Humans are, or was it that some bunch of “scientists” had their VCR on repeat watching “The Day the Earth Stood Still” for far too long?

Ken Pollock
Reply to  noaaprogrammer
July 4, 2021 3:15 am

Mad magazine had a great cartoon on this subject decades ago – the pavement covered in a deep layer of metal coat hangers, entangling the pedestrians…Nothing changes!

Reply to  Ken Pollock
July 4, 2021 4:38 pm

How I miss Mad Magazine … youth of today wouldn’t understand as they can’t read off paper … mind you, the pictures would help.

Reply to  Streetcred
July 5, 2021 11:00 am

It’s still around, but sadly, like so many other publications, is not even a shadow of its former self.

Reply to  noaaprogrammer
July 4, 2021 4:37 pm

I wouldn’t mind if my nice wood hangers multiplied with like but they produce those horrible wire things !

Reply to  noaaprogrammer
July 5, 2021 10:58 am

NP I think I have the other end of that wormhole.

Reply to  R Grubb
July 4, 2021 12:23 am


Enjoying biroid lifestyles!

Reply to  R Grubb
July 4, 2021 8:16 pm

I thought the lost sock was simply sacrificed to create the lint in dryer.

Rud Istvan
July 3, 2021 2:53 pm

There are four ‘confusions’ in this synopsis.
First, Plastic pollution IS mainly a third world problem. Harbor pictures prove that.
Second, in the rivers the stuff isn’t micro, it’s still macro.
Third, in the oceans sunlight and waves convert it to micro. That does not take days, nor years. It’s months.
Fourth, ocean microorganisms then eat the micro plastics quite efficiently, as Kip Hansen has shown here. No different that the Gulf Macando spill got mostly eaten. After all, plastics are derived from crude oil and natural gas.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
July 3, 2021 3:28 pm

Gee, I wonder which country is the largest source?

Dave Fair
Reply to  Rud Istvan
July 3, 2021 4:18 pm

Rud, there is no way you are going to get a government grant with that sort of empiricist attitude.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Dave Fair
July 3, 2021 4:39 pm

That is true. But I made my money the old fashioned hard way. Only gov grant I ever got in a 35 year non-academic career was $2.2 million, which went 100% to my researchers at U KY CAER and at NRL Carderrock. I already invented and owned the issued foundational underlying patents. My guys provided all the pre-pilot line scale technical manufacturing development from that DoD grant (hint, Navy rail guns).

Dave Fair
Reply to  Rud Istvan
July 3, 2021 5:59 pm

Now where would I lay my hands on one of those Navy rail guns, Rud? Strictly for home self-defense under the 2nd Amendment, of course.

Reply to  Dave Fair
July 4, 2021 4:43 am

I know a guy,
You want pocket sized or truck mounted???
Cash only !!!!

Dave Fair
Reply to  Matthew W
July 4, 2021 11:25 am

I want to mount it on my German Shepard; he’s too lazy to bite people.

Richard Page
Reply to  Dave Fair
July 4, 2021 6:36 am

So far, I think, the rail gun technology is being used in the new Ford class aircraft carriers as launch catapults, replacing the old steam ones. Unfortunately, they also appear to be being built into the new Chinese type 003 aircraft carrier as well.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Richard Page
July 4, 2021 11:23 am

“Military secrets are the most fleeting.” Spock.

Reply to  Richard Page
July 5, 2021 12:16 pm

Plans provided quietly by POTUS.

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  Rud Istvan
July 3, 2021 4:33 pm

Fifth, what better place to study this source of impending doom than, say, the sun-kissed shores of the Med…

“… Dr. Lisa Weiss and her colleagues from the Centre of Education and Research on Mediterranean Environments (CEFREM), a joint research laboratory between the University of Perpignan (UPVD) and the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), and a team of researchers from a number of research institutions in France and the University of Barcelona in Spain…”

Reply to  Frank from NoVA
July 3, 2021 10:30 pm

Can they really distinguish it from the brown snot?

July 3, 2021 3:23 pm

“We need, we need, we need”

We need to increase the mining of metals and the harvesting of cellulose if “we need” to eliminate plastics from our daily lives.

All plastics are non toxic. That why your food and medicine is put into them and you can wear them without issue. The same cannot be said of metal and cellulose.

Reply to  Doonman
July 4, 2021 1:00 am

I see your point, but you go a bit too far.

All plastics are non toxic.

I bet, deep down, you are embarrassed, waking up the next morning after typing that. Have you at least found your wallet and underwear, or can’t you remember where you were last night?
But now you’re sober, you know better, yeesss?

Reply to  Doonman
July 4, 2021 11:45 am

Melamine is toxic

July 3, 2021 3:34 pm

Since most of the plastic in the ocean comes from poor Asian countries, the obvious solution is to chastise and shame the rich countries with a lot of freedom. When a plastic straw that came from an poor Asian country is found in the nose of the turtle, it just makes good sense to ban plastic straws in the rich United States. It also makes good sense for the rich countries with a lot of freedom to send a lot of money to environmental groups who, in turn, only use all that money to live in big mansions. What doesn’t make sense is to address the reasons why poor Asian countries put so much plastic waste in the ocean. Why should environmental groups help others improve their lives? They are living in the utopia the environs want for everyone outside their cabal.
(end sarcasm)

Jay Willis
Reply to  Wade
July 4, 2021 7:08 am

They put it in the oceans because we sent them our recycled plastic straws as part of a local government contract to recycle our rubbish. They said they’d be environmentally ok, and your fraudulent local politician didn’t bother checking.

Reply to  Jay Willis
July 4, 2021 12:09 pm

Could be, but the Philippines sent back shipping containers of Canada’s garbage, full of dirty diapers, rather than just dumping it.

Jim Sternhell
July 3, 2021 4:04 pm

Like ALL prophecies and dire predictions of doom and gloom, they are only out by 2 or 3-orders of magnitude that is. We have NOT outgrown fear and superstition. We may laugh at the amounts of bovine excrement our ancestors swallowed, but many need to look in the mirror and take note if they have evolved in to dung beetles. We are now getting calls to dob in those that don’t take the scamdemic seriously. Where have we seen this before? Petty little nobodies being given the chance to get power over other people. East Germany, Soviet Union, North Korea….

Joel O'Bryan
July 3, 2021 4:14 pm

Somewhere in this is a George Carlin joke.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
July 4, 2021 12:08 am

Ok…I converted to using cardboard drinking straws, so why hasn’t the climate stopped changing?

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
July 5, 2021 12:19 pm

George Carlin: “The greenies complain about plastic, but the frackin’ stuff is totally ORGANIC!”

To bed B
July 3, 2021 4:59 pm

Only 2 orders of magnitude off.

Something got brought up a few days ago that annoys me because its an example of academia being hijacked to push propaganda.

While the Catholic Church didn’t completely stamp out belief in witches, it was against persecution of people for being witches. People were still executed for being heretics and secular courts persecuted people for being witches, but the numbers were small, if you use written records like a historian would. Modern ‘academic’ guesses are orders of magnitudes larger.

The Protestant churches persecuted people for being witches. Still, less than 200 reliably documented. There is only about 700 examples where there is some written evidence. This is then used to ‘extrapolate’ for those not documented and numbers between 30-50 000 are estimated. Some manage to come up with 100 000.

Some popular books on witchcraft claim, with no reference, 3-9 million. That is about 4 orders of magnitude more than you could justify using written records, like you would expect a historian to do,

Janice Moore
July 3, 2021 5:25 pm

Antarctic explorer making a presentation to the National Geographic Society………

AE: …. and, so, ladies and gentlemen, having estimated the area of Antarctica to be roughly 550,000,000 square miles, we can say that it is a truly unprecedented ice field.

NGS chair: (cough) 550 million square miles, did you say?

AE: Yes (nodding vigorously).

NGS: A bit off, I’m afraid. That’s enough ice to coat the planet earth, which is roughly 57 million square miles in area, nearly 10 times over.

AE: Oh. (frown)….. (brightening — 😃) Oh, well, then. It’s all good! We must keep researching it. Of course we will need some more funding.

NGS: We most certainly will n —

Market Developer for Acme Home Solar, Industrial Wind, and Electric Automobiles*: (jumps to her feet, interrupting)

— will give you all you need. (GLARE at NGS which says “fund this junk or Warblin Beauty will stop supporting your group” –which NGS understands perfectly and, thus, …..)

NGS: (eyes closed, head down, wearily says)

Of course. Go see Bill. He’ll write you a check.

Imovethatweadjournsecondedallinfavortheayeshaveit. (SLAMS gavel. Leaves.)

*In this bit of science fiction, that lot was the AGC(cooling) gang, then, pushing the same junk, just raising the spectre of an ice age, instead of a planet with “a fever.”


Note: the above is an attempt to use humor to make a point. (face palm)

Dave Fair
Reply to  Janice Moore
July 3, 2021 6:04 pm

Don’t give up your day job.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Dave Fair
July 3, 2021 6:52 pm

Thank you, Mr. Fair, for taking the time to help me see myself as others see me. A good piece of humble pie is part of a healthy diet.

K. McNeill
Reply to  Dave Fair
July 3, 2021 8:49 pm

Dave, she has reliably documented most NGO/NPO meetings. Been there etc.

July 3, 2021 6:11 pm

Plastics and sinks … dying polar bears … global warming … so much to exaggerate, so little resources with which to fool the People. What’s a “scientist” to do, o my?!

Reply to  Duane
July 4, 2021 3:15 am

“What’s a “scientist” to do, o my?!”

Ask for more money?

July 3, 2021 7:22 pm

Sounds like micro plastic pollution was another scare tactic to amp up hysteria. Like CO2, it fails to have merit.
Maybe the missing plastic got dissolved by ocean acidification/sarc

Richard M
Reply to  Brad-DXT
July 4, 2021 7:53 pm

It might actually have some merit. Microplastics may be warming the oceans, at least in areas with larger sources. The warmer oceans then warm the atmosphere … This could actually be AGW.

July 3, 2021 8:30 pm

AGW – big pile of rubbish.

Marine environment Plastic pollution – very real. I live on a major river stateside USA, 20 some miles downriver from a metropolitan area. I can, any given day, strain out many many pieces of thin, clear plastic, kind of floating like an emulsion. What effect it has on the wildlife, I don’t know. But it is real and easily detected. If I can find hundreds of pieces near the shoreline on a short private beach, that translates to a lot in the river.

Reply to  JBP
July 4, 2021 3:06 am

“that translates to a lot in the river.”

But in the sea? In the river is fine by me, you dumped it, you clear it up, or put up with it. We now know plastics are not a problem.

Reply to  Disputin
July 4, 2021 6:18 am

Huh. Yes sir, sir, I’ll get right on that.

‘We now know plastics are not a problem’.

So, the science is settled on that. Good news! Jeesh.

Jay Willis
Reply to  JBP
July 4, 2021 7:15 am

They installed plastic traps in the Thames which work really well. It is tidal with a long excursion (~7km), so they probably get a few bites of the plastic cherry so to speak. Your surface stuff will be very dependent on wind I think.

Richard M
Reply to  Disputin
July 4, 2021 7:56 pm

Or maybe we don’t know. Besides the reduction in evaporation from any source of surface pollution, the plastic will absorb solar energy closer to the surface of the oceans. The combination is almost sure to raise the SST. How much? Don’t think anyone has studied it so no one knows.

Jim Whelan
Reply to  JBP
July 4, 2021 10:23 am

If I can find hundreds of pieces near the shoreline on a short private beach, that translates to a lot in the river.

No. It says little or nothing about what is coming down the river. The area on the beach is an area of still water that traps the refuse. It may represent several days, weeks or months or what comes down the river.

Jackie Pratt
Reply to  Jim Whelan
July 5, 2021 7:59 pm

Jim et al; In addition to my little piece of shoreline I have also been over at a neighbor’s (about a mile downriver) and the amount of plastics there are the same. This is not isolated. There may be a concentration at the shoreline vs offshore, but it is there nonetheless. Additionally, as I go to the beach regularly, I can honestly report that what I see is not an accumalation, it’s just ‘passing through’.

Is there any literature that says how this plastic affects the aquatic flora and fauna (is there aquatic flora and fauna?).

BUT pollution ought to be addressed separately, not dragged in to the AGW discussion to falsely prop up lame AGW arguments.

Reply to  Jackie Pratt
July 6, 2021 6:45 am

You’re absolutely right, but addressing it separately only distracts from the “CO2 is killing us” narrative, so they can’t allow that.

Reply to  JBP
July 4, 2021 12:26 pm

So then if I, living in Central Canada where we actually collect and deal with our garbage, suddenly give up plastic that will magically clear up your shore? That’s basically the issue – scientists not dealing with where the plastic actually comes from, because they know China will ignore or snicker at them, and instead beating the doomsday drum to get more funding.

July 3, 2021 9:12 pm

Irrespective of errors in the flux estimates, the authors of this article state that the total amount of micro plastics in the oceans is “tens to hundreds of metric tons”. So in all of the world’s oceans, they are saying there is only the equivalent of one to ten garbage trucks of micro plastics!!! This is a problem? They need to get a job in the real world.

Alan the Brit
Reply to  Pflashgordon
July 4, 2021 12:01 am

I really do wish people will stop referring to “metric” tons (strictly speaking tonnes)!!! I have no desire to be hit by an imperial ton, a US ton, or even a metric tonne, they are all around the same, just a few Kgs difference, & as an engineer, I wouldn’t stand there with a calculator in hand, saying to someone “Oh don’t worry, it’s only an old fashioned ton, it won’t hurt you, much, but watch out for those metric tonnes, they’re really bad for you!!!” 😉

Jay Willis
Reply to  Alan the Brit
July 4, 2021 7:16 am

Thanks Alan it’s good to have a pedant on board.

Reply to  Jay Willis
July 4, 2021 10:49 am

Jay, I think Alan highlights the difference between an estimate [‘rule of thumb’ is now oh-so-unwoke today!] and a precise number.
My – limited – experience is that many ‘kids’ – born after about 1980, perhaps – have trouble with estimates. Especially if they work for the BBC!

[born before 1955, for disclosure].

Reply to  Alan the Brit
July 5, 2021 12:25 pm

What’s heavier, a metric ton of plastic, or a metric ton of depleted uranium?

July 3, 2021 9:37 pm

Anyone whose IQ score is greater than their hat size must be well aware that plastics aren’t a problem.

OK, a lot of plastic is used making really crappy stuff, exported around the world, usually from China. That’s a problem not just aesthetically but because it is another economic tool for the CCP to swallow us.

But there are innumerable uses of plastic (including the dreaded ‘single use’ plastics) that are not only very usefull, but essential. And, in fairness, some of these, sometimes including very high quality items, are also Chinese made.

The problems here is firstly that the West has very inadvisably exported manufacturing industry to China (slave labour is cheap and far less pesky HR problems, so more time on the golf course for Western executives). And secondly the fact that the cost of proper disposal of plastic waste in the West is so high.

The reason proper disposal is so high is because GangGreen insisted on ‘recycling’, although correctly recycling mixed and contaminated plastic waste is at least an order of magnitude higher than using new plastic and putting plastic waste through an energy from waste plant.

So much plastic waste was therefore exported, initially to China, that even the Chinese got sick of it and banned import. So plastic waste got sent to genuinely ‘developing’ countries which had neither the means nor technology nor intention of proper disposal.

Underlying much of this is GangGreen’s other grouse, plastic is produced largely from ‘fossil fuels’. So very, very bad. If the problem derived from tofu and vegan ‘sausages’ and hand knitted bicycles, it would be great, no problem at all. Who cares if a vegan ‘sausage’ gets stuck up a turtle’s nose? Just like all the plastic used in GangGreen’s latest smartphones and electric cars, it isn’t a problem.

But plastic drinking straws or hygenic plastic wrapping? Oh my! What could be worse?

I suggest we cut out a lot of the crap. Export GangGreen to China. GangGreen would be absolutely over the moon. Beloved Leader Xi Jinping will know precisely how to handle them.

July 3, 2021 9:45 pm

If plastics were staying on the surface longer than previously thought, that would result in there being more plastics in the ocean, not less.

Julian Flood
July 3, 2021 10:38 pm

Monitoring ocean plastic pollution has just been cracked — see Evans and Ruf

Using oil and surfactant pollution as a proxy they can point to areas where the microplastics accumulate.

More important, in my opinion, is the fact that there is now a system for tracking oil and surfactant pollution. Inverting the procedure we can monitor the vast areas of polluted ocean surface. If as I suspect oil/surfactant pollution is an anthropogenic contribution to GW then this will put another constraint on the CO2 hypothesis.


Richard Page
Reply to  Julian Flood
July 4, 2021 6:45 am

Only if their conclusions are correct. It would be wildly improbable that every detectable area of smooth sea surface can only be attributable to microplastics. That being the case, then their numbers may be off by orders of magnitude as well.

July 3, 2021 11:09 pm

So we’re still doomed, then?

Reply to  RoHa
July 5, 2021 11:08 am

RoHa, we’re always doomed.

Intelligent Dasein
July 4, 2021 3:11 am

This article consists of the same few paragraphs repeated 2 or 3 times over. Very annoying.

Terry Gednalske
July 4, 2021 6:44 am

“We didn’t know what we thought we knew, and we don’t really know what we think we know now, but we know it’s a big problem!”

July 4, 2021 8:15 am

Like the drunk looking for his missing car keys under the street lamp because the light is better, count on these researchers looking for a solution in wealthy countries even though they know 99% of the problem comes from Asian and African countries.

July 4, 2021 9:10 am

Off By More Than 99%?

Close enough for government work.

July 4, 2021 11:55 am

“Even though we don’t know what we’re doing or who the enemy is, we have to fight now” say some Marxist scientists looking ahead to their next funding review or grant request.

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